14 months after the last SailGP event, the Great Britain SailGP Team finally returned to action yesterday (23rd April) for the opening day of the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix Presented by Hamilton Princess. Despite perfect conditions, it did not prove to be the return the team were hoping for.
After variable decisions throughout the week, and a forecast of very light breeze for the scheduled opening day of Saturday 24th April, SailGP made the decision to move the first day of racing forward by 24 hours to Friday. It proved to be the correct decision, as the Great Sound of Bermuda put on stunning conditions for a true spectacle, with a steady north-westerly breeze of 13-16 knots and gusts reaching 15-19 knots.
The day’s action for the Great Britain SailGP Team, which saw three fleet races take place featuring all eight teams in action at the same time, was, however, marred by small but costly errors. In the first race of the day, the GBR Team made a good start but lost control of their wing rounding the bottom mark, slowing the team’s F50 catamaran down and touching down into the water. That led to the team not giving the USA SailGP Team enough room at the rounding, a penalty which saw the team’s position drop from third to seventh, which was where they ultimately finished in a race won by the Australian SailGP Team.
Seeking a quick turnaround, Ben Ainslie and his team made another solid start off the line in race two. This time, however, a cumulation of several minor mistakes through manoeuvres led to losses throughout the race, and the team once again finishing in seventh place and collecting another 4 Championship points. The race was again won by the AUS Team.
The third and final race of the day saw the team visibly get more to grips with their F50, as manoeuvres began to improve. Another good start this time led to the GBR Team leading off the line in a drag race to the first mark with the AUS Team. Ben Ainslie and his crew covered the Australians well for several legs, maintaining a small lead before the final two legs when a split enabled the Australians, who won the first season of SailGP, to take the lead and ultimately hold onto it in the final downwind leg and win the race by 11 seconds, with the British finishing second.
Reflecting on the opening day of Season 2 Great Britain SailGP helm Ben Ainslie said:
“That was not a great day for us. We didn’t feel like we had full control of the boat and in these types of conditions against this level of competition any small error can you put at the back of the fleet.
“It’s the first time we as a team have sailed this boat and not felt in full control and that cost us at crucial times, we will look at the data and figure it out.
“It was nice to get a decent last race, coming away second with some crucial points, but we still gave away a strong lead which was frustrating.
“We quickly learn from it and get top results in the first two races of the day on Sunday in order to make the final podium race”.
The Bermuda Sail Grand Prix Presented by Hamilton Princess resumes on Sunday 25th April at 18:00PM BST. UK fans can watch live on Sky Sports and YouTube.
Bermuda Sail Grand Prix Presented by Hamilton Princess Standings:
- AUS – 30 points
- JPN – 23
- FRA – 23
- USA – 20
- ESP – 19
- GBR – 17
- DEN – 11
- NZL – 11